Lightning recall offensive defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron

If you ask me, it never hurts to have a few extra NHL-ready defensemen around.

Steve Yzerman would probably agree with this statement, as he made the wise decision to give offensive defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron the chance to play his way into the team’s rotation this season. Bergeron got his legs back under him in the AHL and with Mike Lundin injured and Mattias Ohlund banged up, the team decided to recall the specialized blueliner.

Although Bergeron showed the occasional shred of defensive acumen during his time in Minnesota (perhaps because Jacques Lemaire wouldn’t allow anything less), he’s very much an offensive-minded defensemen. You won’t want to line him up against a team’s best forward line, but he can be an asset on the power play and on the attack.

Bergeron has a .49 point per game average in his NHL career, a solid rate for a D-man. He scored two goals and six assists for eight points in 13 games with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL this season, so at least that part of his game seems intact.

Considering the firepower Tampa Bay employs in their forward corps, Bergeron could put up some nice numbers if he gets big PP minutes. The Lightning play their next eight games at home, so they can take some time to integrate him into the lineup and milk favorable matchups. Unless, of course, they just decide to make him a healthy scratch/depth guy.

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.